There has been much discussion on my favourite bee related web site – honeybeesuite.com about the winter solstice recently. It has certainly triggered the “little grey cells”.
The discussion centred on the idea that bees follow a colony growth trend from 22 Dec to the summer solstice on June 22 and thereafter on a descending pattern.
I was pleased to see the start of this process and witness the beginning of the bee’s year. On 20 Dec I visited my bees before the Holiday season. The bees of each colony were in their winter “ball” and were not amused at all at being disturbed. My next visit was on 3 Jan about two weeks after the winter solstice. The weather conditions were not discernibly different, and generally mild with temperatures at about 9/10 deg max. The bees however, were in an entirely different state. They were out of their “ball” they were foraging and bringing in Pollen (where they found that, is to me a mystery) and were occupying about twice the space in the hive that they had been. They took no notice of me, just accepting me placing more food for them and removing medicine.
Planning for a new season is well advanced, as hive boxes large and small are all ready for March to see when I can make divisions and new colonies. The beekeeper is looking ahead and getting quite excited about the forthcoming spring.